“Ready for adventure under control? Cleveland’s book invites us to explore the experiences and meanings of tourism in Africa and its profound impact on how the continent is imagined. It also provides a different reading of Western modernity as a producer of otherness through one of its most profitable products: tourism, where verbs such as to travel become to explore and to discover, preserving the allure of colonial sagas and developmental missions. Experience of difference, heritage, traditions, nature, wildlife, and community culture, have been and are (re)shaped, tailored, commodified, and contested in complex and conflicting local-global power relations from the nineteenth century under the dynamics of tourism in the continent. Their impact on African lives is a capital ingredient of this journey confronting artificial Africas with the realities that the tourism industry produces.”
Mónica Inés Cejas, author of Feminismo, cultura y política: El contexto como acertijo (Feminism, Culture and Politics: Context as a Riddle)
“Todd Cleveland brings together significant facets of tourist history on the African continent into one engaging read. Whereas many tourist studies focus on the tourist, vitally, A History of Tourism in Africa illuminates the myriad competing desires at play in all tourist sites—those of tourists, governments, laborers, and local communities. By presenting these competing perspectives on tourism within the thematic frames of his chapters, Cleveland reveals the complicated nature of African tourist industries, as well as how, from the start, they have been interwoven with the history of socio-politico-economic developments across the continent.”
Carol L. Magee, author of Urban Cadence: Street Scenes from Lagos and Johannesburg
An engaging social history of foreign tourists’ dreams, the African tourism industry’s efforts to fulfill them, and how both sides affect each other.
Since the nineteenth century, foreign tourists and resident tourism workers in Africa have mutually relied upon notions of exoticism, but from vastly different perspectives. Many of the countless tourists who have traveled to the African continent fail to acknowledge or even realize that skilled African artists in the tourist industry repeatedly manufacture “authentic” experiences in order to fulfill foreigners’ often delusional, or at least uninformed, expectations. These carefully nurtured and controlled performances typically reinforce tourists’ reductive impressions—formed over centuries—of the continent, its peoples, and even its wildlife. In turn, once back in their respective homelands, tourists’ accounts of their travels often substantiate, and thereby reinforce, prevailing stereotypes of “exotic” Africa. Meanwhile, Africans’ staged performances not only impact their own lives, primarily by generating remunerative opportunities, but also subject the continent’s residents to objectification, exoticization, and myriad forms of exploitation.
Todd Cleveland is an associate professor of history at the University of Arkansas. His books include these Ohio University Press titles: Sports in Africa, Past and Present (2020), Following the Ball: The Migration of African Soccer Players across the Portuguese Colonial Empire, 1949–1975 (2018), Diamonds in the Rough: Corporate Paternalism and African Professionalism on the Mines of Colonial Angola, 1917–1975 (2015), and Stones of Contention: A History of Africa’s Diamonds (2014). More info →
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